The State of Local Democracy in Houston and Harris County

Report by John Lappie, PhD
September 29, 2017

Kinder Institute for Urban Research   (Houston)

The governments of Harris County and the City of Houston have many vital powers, but relatively little is known about the nature of local elections in either jurisdiction. This study attempts to fill this gap by examining the nature of participation, looking at both voters and candidates, in Harris County and Houston local elections. The results indicate that local democracies in Harris County and Houston have many challenges. Relatively few people vote in local elections, a high proportion of local elections are uncontested and both the electorate and the candidate pool fail to reflect the area’s population.